A pandemic, shuttered stores, closed schools, protests — what a May!
Not everyone suffered; health care manufacturers, take-out food and gardening suppliers could not meet demand. But many restaurants saw declines of 50 percent. Retail sales dropped 75 percent.
Consequently, state business tax revenues fell 29 percent; rooms and meals taxes, 58 percent. State and town budgets will feel the pain. Without federal support, they will be forced into layoffs, service cuts and/or property tax hikes. One in six New Hampshire workers was unemployed. Because the system was overwhelmed, I had to help some individuals get their checks. Yet unemployment payments will end. We senators are working to see that high-risk individuals may still stay at home and receive benefits, and that businesses must protect workers who return.
Meanwhile, people struggle to pay bills. Homeowners cannot pay mortgages; businesses, their loans; renters, their rent. We expect to pass the Granite Promise Plan to help forestall foreclosures and evictions.
Washington promises another round of support, too, including moneys for expanding broadband. This, plus my telecommunications-district bill and Sen. Kahn’s definition-of-unserved-by-broadband bill should help towns finally connect all students and home professionals.
The governor is opening tourism quickly to boost rooms and meals revenues. We will have to trust camping and lodging establishments to realize that long-term success means enforcing safe practices. The governor’s requirement that out-of-staters declare they have quarantined 14 days may not help much, though.
What else can we do to achieve a best-case re-opening? We continue masking and distancing. We support our businesses, so firms can pay wages and workers can pay rent. Eventually, we begin to socialize, one couple with another, two friends together, extending the quarantine circle gradually, rather than suddenly hosting parties.
We cannot stay locked inside forever. We have children to educate, elections to hold and injustices in our society to repair. It may feel daunting, but I hope you will join me in working to resurrect the America we love, with big dreams and opportunity for all.
43 Pine St., Peterborough
(This writer represents Senate District 9.)